Today we visit Venice once again as we drink our way through a dessert accompaniment with prosecco, a venetian sparkling wine made slushy with very lemony ice cream, and sweet strawberry puree.
Prosecco is light, bubbly, fruity, wine not to be confused with heavier sparkling wines or champagnes as the wine making process is different. The result is a sparkling wine light enough to balance out this dessert cocktail and with a lower alcohol content. Prosecco has recently gained global popularity, but one must be aware that it does not have a shelf life beyond a few years. As champagne can only be called so if it comes from Champagne in France, under European law, the name “prosecco” can only be used with wine made from Prosecco grapes grown in the Valdobbiadene/Conegliano region of Italy.
This is a fun after dinner partaking that can be served WITH a dessert or AS a dessert. A proper dessert might be some cookies or something with very dark chocolate.
The lemon ice cream is tart and daring. There are no eggs, just cream added to a lemon simple syrup and then processed through an ice cream machine. The recipe never says to discard the lemon peel, but I insist you do that. Although I was quite meticulous in not including any of the bitter pith, a parade of peel from a whole lemon per drink (as this serves 4) is not a great idea. I’m sure Marcella meant to tell us this or assumed we knew.
While the lemon syrup is cooling off, you can make the strawberry puree. The ice cream and the puree can be made in advance, by at least a day so this is perfect dinner party fun.
On party night, do as they do in Venetian restaurants, and serve it table side. You take out the ice cream, the puree (dolled up in pretty table fare), with a chilled bottle of prosecco. Slush around the ice cream in a bowl, add the puree, add in some sparkling wine, slush around some more (although the word used was whisk) and put in glasses and add a touch more sparkling wine. Don’t be fearful as to how tart the lemon ice cream is. The sweetness of the strawberries will settle that down and the sparkling wine will make everyone happy.
If there are kids at the table, substitute THEIR glass (not yours) with ginger ale or sparkling strawberry soda. I am a firm believer that kids belong at the big table and that they get practice with fancy china and glassware from an early age. Don’t worry, if properly supervised, they will be more respectful than many adults. They love to be included in this way and involved in the conversation.
I might be inspired to also try it this way: Arrange a strawberry in a parfait or champagne glass. Add in lemon ice cream halfway. Freeze. Take out right before serving. Place in front of each glass. Follow with sparkling wine. Serve with a spoon and expect some slurping.
Recipe (adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classical Cooking,
Sgroppino-Venetian Lemon and Strawberry “Slush” with Sparkling Wine, page 613-614)
For the lemon ice cream
- 4 lemons (I would use organic) for lemon peel and lemon juice
- 2/3 cups lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
For the strawberry puree
- 2/3 pound fresh strawberry (You can use frozen) should end up with 2 cups
- If fresh, wash strawberries in cold water. If frozen, defrost and puree strawberries.
- Chill at least two hours before using.
For the sparkling wine
- 1 1/4 cups Prosecco
Make the ice cream:
- Bring the following to a boil for two minutes. Lemon peel, lemon juice, water sugar.
- Cool completely strain syrup. and chill before making ice cream.
- Add cream to syrup and make ice cream as per your machine. Freeze.
Puree Strawberries, chill for two hours
Chill Sparkling wine
- Slush lemon ice cream in bowl. Whisk in half of strawberry puree. Add half of sparkling wine.
- Add remaining puree and wine.
- Whisk together. The consistency should be more like a slush, not a soup.
- It is NOT a smoothie or a milk shake, nor it is a sorbet, yet it is served with small spoons.
- Serve in wide-mouthed glasses. (Martini glasses work well).
Note: For a quick lemon ice cream, mix cream with lemon sorbet, blend and re-freeze.
Here is an interesting modern take using vodka:
Sgroppino al Limone